Older adults love to talk about how the world is getting worse and worse. This generation is writing an awful new chapter in the long, tattered treatise on human depravity. They’re going to burn our homes and empty our IRAs. Doom. Gloom. To quote My Chemical Romance, “Teenagers scare/the living s*** out of me.”
“There is nothing new under the sun,” says Ecclesiastes. The world isn’t getting any better, but it also isn’t getting any worse. Christ is worshipped as fervently as He was twenty, thirty, six hundred years ago. That doesn’t mean, however, that the world is an easy place to live in.
It blows my mind when I read about Paul and the other church fathers who welcomed persecution. They were so convicted of their unworthiness to be called children of God that they welcomed the penalty this world gives for Godolatry. Rejoice when you’re persecuted, Jesus says.
We don’t want to think of this world as an unfriendly place. Americans especially like to think of this entire country as a City on a Hill that Cannot Be Shaken by immorality, and no one here will ever commit violence on us because of our beliefs.
And it’s certainly possible to go through life without violent hands ever being laid on you because you believe in a Holy God.
But is a life like that worth living?
I’m not suggesting that a life without physical violence is empty. But maybe we should trigger that kind of animosity. It’s an uncomfortable thought. You’re a young Christian guy: you just want to keep your head down, go to church, obtain employment and a spouse and settle down. The thing about that kind of life is that it comes with a false sense of security. When the chips are down, you’re still one of “them.”
Christians stand up against a project in your town that would create many jobs–performing abortions. Christians stand up to a popular mayor who embezzled his way to the top. Christians stand up and say “no” to an unjust war. Christians stand up and defend a just, but unpopular war. Christians stand up, when they’re supposed to sit down and not attract attention–that’s their “freedom.”
I’m saying that it wouldn’t take too much to make this country hate Christians the way they hate Christians in Iran or Pakistan. We don’t have to deal with animosity. We think we can shut it out. Maybe your parents thought that if they sent you to the right schools and church camps and finally a nice, “safe” college, you wouldn’t ever be exposed to, say, seeing a drug deal go down, or a prostitute get roughed up by her pimp in a seedy section of town. Maybe they thought you’d never, ever, ever have to stand up like Cassie Bernall did in her “safe” public school in Columbine, Colorado.
Don’t think of this place as a safe zone from which to watch the world fall apart. This is a war zone. This is a war. Never forget it. The enemy is not the unbelieving people who fear you because they don’t understand you. It’s…well, it’s what Jesus fought for forty days in the wilderness, what made that apple look so good for Eve. We won’t win, not by ourselves. Thankfully, we don’t have to fight alone.
The world isn’t safe. Never be unprepared to tell a gunman what you believe, and why. And if you’re ready to tell the gunman, you’re ready to tell your buddy at work who thinks Jesus is a word to say when bad things happen. He might attack you, or worse, he might laugh at you. You might face, gasp, persecution! And then you can rejoice! You’re a man against the world.